Coffin calls for community-government task force on emergency shelters


For immediate release

Nov. 26, 2019

Coffin calls for community-government task force on emergency shelters


NDP Leader Alison Coffin (MHA, St. John’s East–Quidi Vidi) has written Premier Ball calling for a community-government task force to propose immediate actions for improving the emergency shelter situation in St. John’s.


Coffin’s letter follows a recent meeting she participated in, alongside St. John’s Centre MHA Jim Dinn, with residents concerned about the November 5, 2019 homicide outside a for-profit emergency shelter on Bond Street in St. John’s.


Coffin says the community-government task force’s actions should include identifying alternatives to the for-profit emergency shelter model and recommending actions to address complex housing needs in the province as a whole that result from poverty, mental illness, drug addiction, and other issues.

Coffin says, in the spirit of collaboration, this community-government task force should be co-chaired by a community representative and a government representative.


“We have heard a lot about collaboration over the past weeks,” Coffin said. “A person has died. The time for collaboration is now.”


“It is crucial that we work together to address the underlying causes of complex housing needs, and that we take a coordinated approach involving government, community organizations, and concerned residents, to find a solution,” said Coffin.


Coffin recommends that the task force include as members: Representatives of community agencies with experience in emergency housing, homelessness, mental illness, drug addiction, and other issues related to complex housing needs; Representatives of Bond Street area residents; Senior officials of relevant provincial departments; Senior officials from the City of St. John’s; MHAs or St. John’s City Councillors representing a district or ward where such emergency housing issues exist; For-profit emergency housing stakeholders; and others as deemed important by the task force or working group.


“I urge the Premier to give urgent and serious consideration to this proposal, which suggests a collaborative approach to a complex issue,” Coffin said.


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For further information, contact Zaren Healey White, Director of Communications, NDP Caucus at 729-2137 (o), 693-9172 (c), or zarenhealeywhite@gov.nl.ca.



Alison Coffin's letter to Premier Ball is available below:


Dear Premier Ball,


I recently met with concerned residents about the November 5 homicide near a for-profit emergency shelter on Bond Street. M.H.A. Jim Dinn, St. John’s Councillor Hope Jamison, and RNC Chief Joe Boland also attended. Area residents shared their experiences over the last few years and how they felt about the homicide that took place outside their doors.


They also shared ideas about what they saw as underlying causes, and about how the problems should be addressed. We all agreed that a solution requires a coordinated approach involving government, community organizations, and concerned residents.


I am urgently asking you to immediately create a community-government task force to propose immediate actions for improving the shelter situation in St. John’s – including alternatives to the for-profit emergency shelter model – and to recommend actions to address complex housing needs in the province as a whole that result from poverty, mental illness, drug addiction, and other issues.


In the spirit of collaboration, this community-government task force should be co-chaired by a community representative and a government representative.

It could include the following as members:

  • Representatives of community agencies with experience in emergency housing, homelessness, mental illness, drug addiction, and other issues related to complex housing needs;

  • Representatives of Bond Street area residents;

  • Senior officials of relevant provincial departments;

  • Senior officials from the City of St. John’s;

  • M.H.A.s or St. John’s City Councillors representing a district or ward where such emergency housing issues exist;

  • For-profit emergency housing stakeholders;

  • Others as deemed important by the task force

I suggest the following ideas for how the task force could organize itself and inform the recommendations it will make:

  • Any non-profit entity in good standing interested in being involved would either become a member of this body or participate in special engagement activities;

  • Representatives of area residents would be identified at a public meeting;

  • This body would do meaningful engagement with residents and stakeholders with an interest in the issue who are not seated at this table;

  • The time-frame for delivering recommendations should be short (e.g., 1-2 months);

  • This body would be given adequate resources to do its work;

  • It should attempt to generate consensus recommendations; however, if this is not possible in all instances, dissenting views should be included in its report(s);

  • As appropriate, this body would involve, and make recommendations to/for, the following:

Provincial government departments including: Finance; Children, Seniors and Social Development; NL Housing Corporation; Advanced Education, Skills and Labour; Health and Community Services, Justice and Public Safety; Royal Newfoundland Constabulary; City of St. John’s; Community agencies; Residents; For-profit emergency housing stakeholders.


I hope you will give this proposal serious consideration. I look forward to a response from you soon.


Sincerely,









Alison Coffin (M.H.A., St. John’s East – Quidi Vidi)

Leader, New Democratic Party


cc.: Hon. Lisa Dempster, Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development

Hon. John Haggie, Minister of Health and Community Services

Hon. Tom Osborne, Minister of Finance

Hon. Andrew Parsons, Minister of Justice and Public Safety

James Dinn, M.H.A., St. John’s Centre


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